On the 62nd anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Supreme Court education ruling, Milwaukee got a first-hand look into the continued attempts to provide less for the students in Milwaukee Public Schools, who are overwhelmingly black and brown children. During Tuesday’s debate over school privatization at Marquette University Law School forum, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Executive Director (MTEA), Lauren Baker schooled Representative Dale Kooyenga on the many ways his ALEC-model, privatization experiments betray the promise of equal educational opportunities for all children.
On May 17, 1954, the unanimous Brown decision outlawed school segregation policies and eliminated “separate but equal” doctrine. It is clear that Kooyenga’s Takeover legislation is a betrayal of Brown.
During the debate, Kooyenga listed the need for changes in governance as a main reason for his Takeover law–a law which will foster racial and economic inequalities by weakening our public schools and eliminating the promise of education as a civil right. Baker warned the audience that within 5 years, Kooyenga’s Takeover could be taking $41 million out of Milwaukee Public Schools, abandoning the very institution of public education, which is the foundation of our democracy.
“There’s a model that works, and it has nothing to do with governance,” Baker said referencing the proven Community Schools model. “You don’t have to take schools from their democratically elected school board and hand them to private operators to make that happen.”
Baker also criticized Kooyenga for his efforts eliminating the one school “choice” program in Wisconsin that actually worked–Chapter 220–a voluntary integration program in Wisconsin that transferred students between MPS and suburban districts. Kooyenga later responded by calling the Chapter 220 program “out of date” and “offensive,” showing his complete lack of understanding of that powerful desegregation intiative.
Baker further stressed, “the City of Milwaukee has had more experiments in governance than any other city in the country and for the last 25 years and that has not moved the needle.”
Attacks on education that shift public dollars to unaccountable operators will not lead to greater opportunities for Milwaukee’s children, it will not decrease segregation, or eliminate the inequities in school funding that still exist. Education is a civil right and Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association is committed to defending and improving our public schools to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all.